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Angel of McIlvain Playground

Mrs. Angel Brandan has been a mainstay at McIlvain Playground since 1980. Angel came to McIlvain as a volunteer helper with the Tot Recreation Program. In 1981 she became an assistant teacher in the program that boasted two classes in the morning and the afternoon. In 1983, the director retired and Ms. Angel, as she is known to over 800 children that have passed through the Tot Rec program, took over and had not relinquished the title since.

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Angel with her kids

Now, beginning her 35th year, Ms. Angel still comes to McIlvain every day, after her job as a crossing guard for the city of Philadelphia, and teaches children ages 2 ½ to 5. Along with her assistant, Ms. Linda Fagan (who has been here for 17 years), the children enter kindergarten well prepared for what lies ahead of them. Ms. Angel has taught 27 children of children that she taught when they attended McIlvain’s Tot Rec Program.

Besides the Tot Recreation Program, Ms. Angel has been the director of the Summer Day Camp for the past 20 years, taught a children’s Arts & Crafts class once a week for 5 years, taught an adult crafts class for 11 years and has been a member of the McIlvain Advisory Council for the past 7 years.

Angel Brandan is the true essence of what a community member is about. Even though she lives outside of Frankford and the closest playground to her home is Simpson Recreation Center, thirty four years ago she made a decision to make a difference in the lives of so many children, as well as adults, in the Frankford area and in particular McIlvain Playground.

She truly loves McIlvain and the children. Recently she stated that if we didn’t have enough money, she would continue to do it for free. Many people say this about a job but she actually meant it. This is who she is and she deserves to be recognized for all she has given without asking for anything in return.

by Steve Schmidt,
Facility Supervisor,
McIlvain Playground

Angel was honored on December 5th at McIlvain with a reception honoring her 35 years at the playground where she was honored by Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez,  State Rep. Jason Dawkins State Senator Tina Tartaglione.

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Things Are Looking Up at McIlvain Playground

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It was a chilly, rainy day when I stopped by to see Steve Schmidt Facility Supervisor, at McIlvain playground at Penn and Pratt Streets last week.

I found him surrounded by kids and that is how he likes it. The self-described “rec rat” had been an assistant recreation leader with Parks and Recreation for 16 years.

During that time he also taught at Mercy Vocational High School and then later got into social work. He always wanted to work full time in recreation and when the opportunity came along, he grabbed it and has been at McIlvain since April.

He grew up in Olney and has always worked in diverse neighborhoods so Frankford was a perfect fit.

When he first arrived he was surprised to find that there was only the after school program and the tot rec program.

He immediately brought back T ball. Soccer came next with a dance program, drama and tumbling being introduced recently.

Now there is a growing list of programs that has not been seen at McIlvain in quite some time.

There was not much in the line of equipment and the first thing he did was reach out to the contacts he had made throughout the years.

A friend at the Phillies came through with a connection to their Major League Baseball RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) program.

That brought in the equipment which helped keep the cost to parents down to $15. That includes uniform, trophy and a party at the end of the season.

Working through the McIlvain Advisory Council, he applied for a city wide activities grant with the help of Councilwoman Sanchez and got two new air conditioners for the building.

With the help of the Frankford CDC, he got four laptops for the kids in the after school program. Democratic candidate for State Assembly Jason Dawkins has committed for three more.

During the summer he partnered with the Northeast Bible Fellowship and Pastor Alonzo Johnson to get some badly needed improvements made to the facility by groups from Orange City, Florida; Marietta, Georgia and Hopkinton, Massachusetts. They also ran a sport camp,

In a short time, it is starting to look like a major turnaround but he is not satisfied. Plans for the future are to maintain and improve the basketball and baseball program.

The former home of the Frankford Boys Club which left 5 years ago is in shambles and needs to be rebuilt to make it useable.

He wants to bring families back into the park and make it safe for use at all times of the day.

Planning is going on now for a Zumba class and Salsa dancing for adults.

Volunteers are always welcome and donations, both financial and material, are needed.

If you have useable sports equipment, it would be welcome. Financial donations to the McIlvain Advisory Council would be awesome.

Want to tutor kids or help them with homework? Call Steve. If there is coaching that you think you can handle, call Steve. This is your park, come out and help build it up.

As he says “This has been my dream job all my life…This is where I belong.”

You can reach Steve at 215-685-1228 or stop by the playground at 5200 Penn Street.